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Connectivity in electronics manufacturing: sorting practicality from hype

Exploring the key elements to look for in a pragmatic smart factory solution with guest blogger Benoit Ouellet, Director of SW Development at Cogiscan. 

This week, Benoit reviews a recent interview with James Mok, Strategy, IoT & Big Data, from Dassault Systèmes. James shares his thoughts about the integral nature of connectivity in smart factory and IIoT strategies: “Connectivity is key in delivering digital continuity. 

James on the main challenges facing connectivity today: “It would not be a challenge if all the machines of the world use the same communication protocol and speak the same semantics. There have been many attempts to establish such a standard. In the real world of automation, such a dominant standard is almost impossible… Therefore, despite all the efforts to simplify the landscape of connectivity standards, it is unlikely that one can fit all shapes and sizes.”  

Benoit’s thoughts: Every machine brand and model has its own unique features and specific advantages… that’s what differentiates them on the market. Trying to fit the information available from all of the machines into a single and common data set is not a promise to get more data, it’s a way to get what’s common. In order to allow access to machine-specific data, the manufacturer must make it available using a different mechanism, outside of the standard, often using a proprietary protocol.   

James’ strategy to address connectivity concerns: “At Dassault Systèmes, we have an open strategy when it comes to connectivity… Also, we have adopted widespread standards of IIoT into our own solutions such as OPC-UA and MQTT, we also work with partners to enhance our connectivity such as Cogiscan in the domain of SMT integration, which is at the heart of any electronic manufacturing nowadays. 

Benoit’s thoughts: At Cogiscan, we have deep knowledge and experience integrating with various machine protocols or data sources.  We have a strong and always-growing network of partnerships with the machine manufacturers, which enables us to efficiently get all data elements available from the machines to meet specific project needs.   

 And James’ perspective on industry standards such as CFX and Hermes: “… the application of such standards depends on the type of individual equipment. For the same reasons mentioned above, we do not see any single standard solution that can meet the needs of smart manufacturing. That is why we work with a partner like Cogiscan. With such a solution, we do not have to worry about so many protocols and standards or the burden of bridging gaps between legacy equipment and new machines. The connectivity platform solution that they provide can speak to all the protocols and standards in the SMT world. And if ever a standard raised to power, we can rest assured that they would support that too. 

Benoit’s closing thoughts: Standards are good and important; they really help speed up software development. But what happens when the standard does not provide the data you need?  Or what if it is not supported on older machines?  Relying on a single standard also has a cost.  Working with an integration partner can help reduce this cost.   

Read the entire interview with James on EMS NOW.  

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